SPIRITUAL LAW IN
THE NATURAL WORLD:
AMONG THE CREATURES.
PERHAPS, for my own credit, I ought to stop here. Perhaps
even for the cause I hope to serve - which is very much to lead others to
appreciate more Gods gift to us of the creatures, and the full purpose of
this gift of God, - I might better stop, content with what awakening of desire
I may hope to have achieved, than go further to show how small the distance I
have travelled in these inviting fields. I confess that with me that impulsive
self of which the Duke of Argyll has spoken to us, may be refusing the voice of
that calm higher wisdom which ought to be rather heard, when I attempt to face
the difficulties of the practical application of such principles as we have
been considering, and lead my reader face to face with Nature.
Let it be conceded that we have obtained some real glimpse of the divine side in her, - heard a Voice from its very familiarity strange from such a quarter, - a Voice yet which sounds as a voice of home wherever we hear it, - have got principles, too, which have not only stood wonderfully the tests to which we have been putting them, granting all which must be in fairness granted, yet we seem little furnished, after all, for what evidently now lies before us. These types of nature, though real, are yet but very slightly sketched; their inner meaning, for which, Spiritual Law would say, they must above all exist, is yet more a hint than a revelation; other principles, yet unknown, may (and very likely will) come in to modify the application of those we have in measure learned.* All this is true, and yet we must go forward. "Every one that seeketh findeth" is a motto we may still take for our encouragement. And have we not, in fact, found much while on the road? It may be that our Fathers book of Nature, like His other book of Grace, requires less the learning of the sage to read it than the teachable spirit of the little child.
*Thus it is to be remarked, that no one must suppose that we are giving hasty adhesion to the whole system of Messrs. McLeay & Swainson. We believe there is truth in it; but that is very far from saying that it is the whole truth: we neither accept it wholly nor, on the other hand condemn it for defects or mistakes, which adhere to all that is merely human. In the work and Word of God alone there are none.
One of the first places in which we find our father Adam before the fall is among the creatures "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam, to see" - that Adam might see - "what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to every fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field."
So that one of mans first lessons was a lesson of zoology; for the giving names to all the creatures surely implies intelligence about them; and the names stood for qualities in them that might be and were discerned. Adam was possessor of no language but his own, and could not hide in magniloquent Greek, as do our zoologists now, the emptiness of an unmeaning name. Could we recall, as we cannot now, those first names, we should surely find convincing proof that Adam was a full-grown man, and that nature appealed to him in a different way from that in which now it appeals to us, from our textbooks of zoology. Indeed, the Hebrew names, which must be no very far off kin to Adams, may well contain plenty of treasure in this way awaiting the explorer. Since then, we have dissected the forms, and too much lost the life and power.
However, we will not theorize: we will go abroad and breathe the fresh air of Gods world, in which let us remember, not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him, and He clothes the lilies of the field with a glory beyond Solomons. Our interest in it may well be inspired by His interest and that which we find of Him in it be in truth but fellowship with Him.
Supposing still that what is written largest should be the plainest, and desiring to get, as the introduction to all else, the general plan of creation, let us take up the animal kingdom briefly now, to study its divisions - of course, the largest ones.
The types of which we have been speaking apply only to the divisions of the animal kingdom; but the numerical system, as we have seen, goes beyond this, and characterizes all nature. We may take it at least as a fixed principle, that wherever the numbers are, they are meant to speak to us; they have a reason in the divine, and a reason open to be discovered by us to an extent practically unlimited, except by unbelief. Whatever is of reason is meant as an appeal to reason, Gods written Word being always the interpreter of the obscure and parabolic utterances of the book of nature. This we shall find, the more firmly we grasp it, and the more faithfully we adhere to it, to be proportionately fruitful as a principle I appeal to the reader if we have not found it so.
The kingdoms of nature are not five, nor three, but four. The, organic kingdoms are, however, three; but they do not constitute a circle. On the other hand, their 3 and 1 speak, as we have seen, of the manifestation of the Creator in the creature, and justify our search into it that we may find Him in it. An unmeaning act would not be worthy of Him: we will not ascribe such to Him.
Are there five types of form in the animal kingdom? To this, of course, there will be various answers. We do not propose to discuss them. The tendency now is away from the thought of original types at all. A mindless evolution, of course, would work in its own blind way
"Experience has shown," says Dawson, "that those naturalists who discard the idea of intelligent plan as embodied in nature, and who regard it as a mere chance product of conflicting forces and tendencies, necessarily arrive at irrational modes of classification."
Cuvier divided animals into four main groups, basing this upon plan of structure. These divisions are those of Vertebrates, Articulates, Mollusks, and Radiates. Prof. Henry James Clark has, in his "Mind in Nature," elaborately argued for a fifth division, commonly conceded now, that of Protozoa; and it is this arrangement, I propose to take up and examine in the light of what knowledge we have already gained. We will arrange them thus: -
5. Mollusca. 2. Articulata.
4. Radiata. 3. Protozoa.
If this be a circle, as we have been told it must be, to form a natural arrangement we may begin to trace the circle at any point within it. We will begin, therefore, with the simplest because the lowest form, the Protozoan.
"The type of this division," says Prof. Clark, "is found in its relation to a spiral; it is the oblique or spiral type."
Of this he gives many examples, entering into details, as to which it would be, for our purpose, wholly useless to follow him. The simple fact is what interests us; because the spiral type is (as revealed by the arrangement of the leaves and flowers) that of the vegetable kingdom and the number (3) attached is that of the vegetable kingdom. In this, also, the lowest division among animals, are found the forms actually nearest to the plants, which, strangely as one might think, approach the animal- kingdom most nearly in their lowest forms.
The forms here are mostly microscopic, and reveal their structure only to the skilled observer. It is no .wonder, therefore, that this should be in debate; nor is it possible for us here to take part in these discussions even if we had (as we have not) competency for them. We must refer those who desire it to Prof. Clarks book.
In their minute size, the Protozoa are certainly in contrast to Mr. Swainsons remarks on aquatic types, although they are aquatic. He puts them, indeed, in his fourth group accordingly, along with the zoophytes (corals, etc.); but this we shall have to look at when we come to these. As putting them in this third division, we have the facts simply of their being at the furthest remove from typical forms, of which there is no doubt, and their spiral structure, and other assimilation to vegetable forms. But of these lowly beings we know too little to be able to speak with much understanding.
Still, even here, we may find facts of a most curious interest, though through this relation to the vegetable rather than any proper insight into the nature of these animalcules. Can we find any "spiritual law" in a spiral type? The leaf arrangement of the plant may suggest some answer, strangely connected as it seems with the courses of the stars! But is it not all one universe, the work of One Hand? Have we not been taught that one mysterious law links the fall of the apple with the courses of the stars? It is simple and familiar knowledge.
Prof. Cooke shall give us, from his well-known book,* the law in question.
*"Religion and Chemistry." (Revised edition, pp. 271-275)
"If we compare the periods of revolution [of the planets] round the sun, expressed in days, we shall find an other simple numerical relation, as shown by the following table: -
"It will be noticed that the period of Uranus is half that
of Neptune, the period of Saturn a third that of Uranus, the period of Jupiter
about two fifths that of Saturn, the period of the Asteroids about three
eighths that of Jupiter, the period of Mars about five thirteenths that of the
Asteroids, the period of Venus about eight twenty-firsts that of Mars, and the
period of Mercury about thirteen thirty-fourths that of Venus. The successive
fractions are very simply related to each other, as will at once appear on
writing them in a series: - 1/2, 1/3 2/5, 3/8, 5/13, 8/21, 13/34, etc. "Notice
that after the first two, each succeeding fraction is obtained by adding
together the numerators of the two preceding fractions for a new numerator.
From this series, however, the earth is excluded. Its time of revolution is
almost exactly eight thirteenths that of Mars, and that of Venus nearly
thirteen twenty-firsts that of the earth; but although these fractions do not
fall into the above series, they are members of a complementary series
½, 2/3, 3/5, 5/8, 8/13, 13/21, etc;
"This simple relation was discovered by Prof. Peirce, and he has proposed an explanation for the anomaly presented by the earth. But it is not important to dwell on this point. My only object has been to show that simple numerical relations appear in the planetary system, and this, as I trust, has been fully illustrated."
One moment, to indulge the theological fancy of a mind intoxicated if you will, with reason. I have no spiritual understanding of the formula here, and can say nothing as to it; but this exceptional relation of the earth does seem as if it might be a note of - is certainly in strange accordance with - its exceptional relation spiritually to the other creatures of God, is it not?
Then notice, - "for ye suffer. fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise," - that, after all, the earth is reduced to obedience to law: it is not left to be an anomaly among the planets, but brought back, may we not say? And how? By a new beginning and a new law, Which none less falls at last into harmony with the old older!! Is it hot what grace has at any rate actually done for us?
Further, look back a little. Behind Mars we find in the table that strange group of asteroids, which always has seemed to me, and I suppose to others, suggestive of catastrophe among the stars; they seem so like shattered fragments of a world that was. Here, in a general way, however, the order is maintained, but among them, as we may say, not by them. You have to find an average among many divergences, as if law bound them only as reigning spite of opposition. Was there not indeed a break like this, before the earth left its orbit, when the angels rebelled?
And yet then there was no new beginning! That began with - earth? No! but with a planet standing in its right place in the former order of things, as Mars stands between the asteroids and the earth, while it begins the new one! Blessed be God! there is indeed One come into the ranks of the obedient, new head of blessing for a restored earth, with whom all begins again! Reader, have you owned His name, and taken your place in the new order of things harmonious with the old? Will you believe a gospel which the stars, in the light of the science of the day, preach so convincingly?
Well, we have wandered: we will return. Do you know that it was only Mr. Cookes tables, and his exposition of them, that just now led me into what are new thoughts to me entirely, and the impulse to give them to you, reader, I have not cared to resist. If all else is full of it, must there not be a gospel also of the stars?
But to proceed with Prof. Cooke: -
"Passing now to the vegetable kingdom, we find again the same numerical laws. The leaves of a plant are always arranged in spirals round the stem. If we start from any one leaf, and count the number of leaves around the stalk, and the number of turns of the spiral until we come to a second leaf immediately over the first, -we find that, for any given plant, as an apple tree, for example, the number of leaves and the number of turns of the spiral are always absolutely the same. The simplest arrangement is where the coincidence occurs at the second leaf, after a single turn of the spiral; and this may be expressed by the fraction 1/2, whose numerator denotes the number of turns of the spiral, and whose denominator the number of leaves. The next simplest arrangement is where the coincidence occurs at the third leaf, after a single turn of the spiral, and may be expressed by the fraction 1/3. These two fractions express respectively the greatest and the smallest divergence between two successive leaves which has been observed. The angle between two successive leaves, therefore, is greater than 180° or half the circumference of the stem, or less than 120° or one third of the circumference. The arrangement next in simplicity is where the coincidence occurs at. the fifth leaf, after two turns of the spiral, as is represented in the preceding figures. Other examples are given in the table which follows, and it will be seen that we have precisely the same series of fractions in the arrangement of leaves round the stem of a plant which appears in the periods of the planets. The fractions of this series are all gradual approximations to a mean fraction between 1/2 and 1/3, which would give the most nearly uniform distribution possible to the leaves, and expose the greatest surface to the sun."
Thus the Hand that has arranged the leaves of the plants has arranged also the courses of the planets. But the analogy is not seen at its fullest yet. For the orbits of the planets are said to be elliptic, while the line that would connect the leaves of a plant is spiral?. But if we take into account that the sun, with all its planets attending, is moving through space in an orbit, doubtless of its own, (for every thing in the heavens is obedient to law,) then these elliptical orbits become, in fact, spiral paths, and the analogy between the vegetable and the planetary world is perfected.
What, is the spiritual meaning of the spiral, so interpreted? In the planet, it is onward progress; in the plant, upward; - orbital, we may say, in each case, or obedient to the centre; in the plant, a law of growth, of development and production How well fitted to this third place in which we find it in the Protozoan! Here, indeed, in minute forms, as if to teach us lowliness as the accompaniment of this upward tendency. It is in our littleness we climb Godward, and, blessed be God! it is in obedience, and as connected with our Centre also, that we do this. Sanctification for us is the ascending spiral: holiness is heavenliness Can these lowest of creatures tell us this?
However we must defer the final answer till we have competed the zoologic circle. Until we find the connection, Mr. Swainson would tell us we can not put in its place any member of it. Let us go on to the -
Here we find Mr. Swainsons third division, along with a part also of his fourth, under the name of Acrita, which includes the corals and other animals formerly called Zoophytes, as well as those of the last division. Prof. Clark, whose arrangement is followed here, preserves the old Cuvierian division, with the separation only of the Protozoa from them.
The type of form is indicated by the name.
A TYPICAL RADIATE: THREE POLYPES OF RED CORAL
"There is a regular disposition of parts around a common
centre, as in the star-fish or the sea-anemone, which in the most
characteristic forms are but repetitions of each other; and one or more of them
may be removed without injury to the functions of the rest. In most of parts so
lost are replaced by a new growth; and not unfrequently it would appear that
these parts may themselves reproduce the whole structure."
In this last respect they show, it has been said, an affinity with the vegetable kingdom, as also in their circular symmetry, so that they have been sometimes called "the flowers of the animal kingdom," - nay, in old time, were mistaken often for flowers. As our fourth division, however, they stand opposite the Mineral Kingdom, and radial symmetry is as well that, of the crystal (as in the snow-flake,) as it is that of the plant. It is in this division also that we find the corals accumulating their masses of actual stone. This coral is an internal, not an external secretion, and forms the support as well as the retreat of the polype. The urchins and sea-stars crust themselves over with calcareous tests. The animal functions are almost at their lowest sensation and motion are alike torpid.*
*Here indeed, there seems a contrast with the activity ascribed by Mr. Swainson to the ." suctorial" type; but it will be observed that he limits ins remarks as to this to the Vertebrata. The number says nothing as to it.
It will be noted, on the other band, that the capability of division which characterizes the Radiate is strictly according to their numerical Place. Four is the first number that is capable of division.
Thus their numerical place seems fully justified. The number 4 speaks of weakness and passiveness, for which the strength. of the rock is their defence not only outwardly, as we have seen, but inwardly, - strength imbibed and experienced, their own and yet not their own. Thus it is that the true experience of the strength of the Rock - Of divine strength - does not make something of us, but every thing of God. We remain what we ever were. "Confidence in the flesh" is broken, and all self-confidence is recognized as confidence in the flesh.
In the urchins and sea-stars, external; but they are not now considered typical of the Radiata.
Here we may encounter easily the reproach of torpidity and passiveness, such as we find in the Radiate. Sensation and motion may seem at a low ebb. In fact, the apprehension of God for us gives quietness and patience; and if "patience have her perfect work," we are "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." There ensues the stillness which is so little understood, and for which even the Marthas of their own kindred turn upon the Marys sitting at His feet, and rebuke, them solemnly before the Lord. But it is not spiritlessness, nor carelessness, only the controlling power of His presence over the soul; and He will justify it.
Good will it be if we get fast hold of the lesson given us by these lowly creatures. If the sluggard may get his lesson from the ant, the restless heart may learn of the coral blossom. from the rock. God has filled nature with these pictures, preaching to the eye, though, alas! having eyes, we see not.
But we must go on. The fifth class, for Mr. Swainson and for ourselves, is now the Mollusk. The Mollusc
plainly reach up toward the Vertebrata, and in character
are intermediate between these and the Radiata. The repetition of parts and the
radial symmetry are gone the body of the Mollusk is "monomerous" - an
indivisible unit: On the other hand the sluggishness of movement in general
remains the animal functions being only somewhat more developed than in the
last case "The body of the Mollusca is almost entirely occupied by the organs
of nutrition and the organs of sensation and locomotion are entirely
subservient to the supply of These. We find in the lowest tribes of this group
living beings which are fixed to one spot during all but the earliest period of
their lives, and n which scarcely possess within themselves so much power of
movement as that enjoyed by the individual polypes in a mass of coral; and yet
these exhibit a powerful and complex. digestive apparatus; a regular
circulation of blood, and an active respiration. But we nowhere find,
throughout. the whole animal kingdom, that the conformation of these organs
governs the shape of the body; they rather adapt themselves to the type which
predominates its structure, and which is principally manifested in the
disposition of the locomotive organs Thus the stomach of the star-fish sends a
prolongation into each ray, whilst in the Articulata, on the other hand we find
the digestive cavity prolonged into a tube, in accordance with the form which
the body there possess.
"Thus we see that, in regard to external shape and arrangement, the apparatus of organic life has no definite plan of its own, and in the Mollusca there is an absence of any general type to which it may be made conformable. Hence the shape of the body varies extremely in those classes in which it is entirely or principally composed of these organs, and no general character can be given which shall apply to all or even a large part of the animals composing them." (Carpenters Zoology.)
In a large part of the sub-kingdom, while the body is thus, as one may say, shapeless, what gives them, for the mass, most of the interest they possess, is the often large and curiously made shell, on account of which they are familiarly known as "shell-fish." The beauty of form and colour which is lacking in the animal itself is bestowed upon the shell and yet for the animal itself, except as shelter the shell is of small account apparently; and all this elaborate ornamentation seems thrown away. The shell after the death of the animal, is all that remains to recognize it by, as the body (as conveyed by the name of the group) is entirely soft, and passes away, the shell, on the other hand, abiding quite untouched.
Thus the 4 and 1 are easily recognizable in this sub-kingdom. The bodily weakness and the rock shelter of the Radiate find place in the Mollusk, which rises yet into an indivisible unity quite opposite to what we find, in the other, developing in the higher forms head-characters, and even an internal cartilaginous sheath for the nerve-centres, which assimilates these animals to the Vertebrata.
But what about the numerical stamp in its inner meaning ? - how holds the spiritual law again in regard to this number 5, which seems at first sight as if it would be so little capable of application to these lower creatures? Let us see if we can under stand it.
The number 5 has, as we have seen, for its fundamental meaning the thought of man in his weakness in relation to the almighty God. We have seen it as the centre of all harmony for man to be here in his place, in creature-nothingness, but with God his God. Christ, in His name "Emmanuel," brings these two together, - is, for man, this God in relationship, his strength, his, hiding-place. How beautifully does the feeble Mollusk in his shelter speak of that!
Not, however, as one might at first think, the lesson of the Radiate over again. The strength that is found in weakness there images a strength which is imbibed and internal. The rock that shelters there is yet within (in what is most typical). Only in the Mollusk is it really apart from, though in intimate companionship with, the being that it shelters. "Thou art my hiding place," - "Thou hast been our dwelling-place, (Ps. xxxii. 7; xc. i,) is only fully brought out in this type, of form. Here, how true it is that the Mollusk hides itself in its shell! not merely as its refuge, let us remember, but as giving all the glory to its place of refuge! How exquisite, in this light, are the painting and sculpture of these beauteous shells! For - let us remember again - it is the Mollusk that makes its shell; and so do we, by our own receptivity of the divine revelation, (as the being we are considering, by its receptivity of light and air and food, the divine provision for it,) make, each for himself, the One we go with.
Let us not wonder, then, at the great variety, and difference as to beauty, of these shells; or that there are naked Mollusks also, wanderers from their type. Nature depicts for us, not merely what is normal, but the whole range of what exists. And with which of us is the God he goes with the all glorious God He ought to be? How blessed yet to be able, in our measure, to glorify Him! Let the being that adorns its shell and not itself show us what is the sure sign of one who walks with God. And let the weak and perishable nature of the being that takes refuge in the shell, compared with the permanence and beauty of the shell itself, warn us how the glory of man shall perish, but the glory of the Lord abide forever!
We must not leave the Mollusk,, however, before we have noted that that which is developed in it is, above all, the nutritive function. Digestion is everywhere its strongest point, as we have seen: it is made up for this, if we may say so; and this is of the very simplest application in relation to the spiritual idea which governs it - of which it is the: expression. We must receive from Him to whom we give, for of His own :alone do we give to Him. She who had the box of ointment for Christs head is that Mary who had her place first at His feet; and if we are to imitate her in the last, we must acquire competence where she did. It is a good part which shall not be taken away, although the service to which it leads may be as little appreciated, even by disciples, as was hers.
In the order in which we have been proceeding, the next group to be considered would be the Vertebrata; but as this is the most comprehensive type of all, and needs to be compared with all the rest, we shall approach it now from the other side, and for this purpose take up first the -
A TYPICAL ARTICULATE.
These constitute; for Mr. Swainson and ourselves, the
second or subtypical group, - a most distinct and easily comprehended, as well
as excessively numerous one. What with insects, crustacea, and worms, its
numbers exceed that of. all the other sub-kingdoms put together. According to
the character ascribed by Mr. Swainson to the subtypical groups, we shall be
prepared to find it the most aggressive and destructive of all types; but, as
we have already hinted, we must not limit it, therefore, to what is significant
of evil. Strife and destruction, though incident to an evil state, of course,
are not necessarily therefore themselves evil: far from it. Christ came that He
might "destroy the works of the devil," and "him that hath the power of death,
- that is, the devil" himself. And we are all enlisted in this strife;
Christs people are His soldiers, and must "war a good warfare," "fight
the fight of faith," "contend earnestly," "wrestle with principalities and
powers." And though "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal," yet are they
"mighty through God; to the pulling down of strongholds."
The number 2 is stamped upon the Articulata in the most perfect way. In them, bilaterality is most perfectly developed from the head to the extremity of the body, while the whole animal is divided into rings, which consist of an upper and an under arch, each of four pieces arranged in pairs on each side of the middle line. Eight pieces give us thus the cube of 2.
"The different rings or segments of the body always bear a strong resemblance to each other, and sometimes, as in the Julus [wire-worm] and the Scolopendra or Centipede, they seem like actual repetitions of each other. Each ring may bear two pairs of appendages, or members." (Carpenter.)
"The tendency to repetition exhibited by the segments of the body is as remarkable in the, disposition of the muscles and of the nervous system as it is in the arrangement of the general envelope. In most animals of this sub-kingdom, each ring in its complete state possesses a pair of nervous ganglia, united, on the central line; and these ganglia are connected together by a double cord of communication which runs along the lower or ventral surface of the body.
"The muscles, like the parts of the body themselves, are arranged with great regularity and exactness on the two sides of the median or central line; so that the lateral symmetry of the Articulata is most exact. Where the segments and their appendages have a similar form and action, their muscles are but repetitions of each other."
"The alimentary tube frequently passes straight along the central line, from one extremity of the body to the other, with a dilatation near its commencement, - the stomach; and where this is not the case, the convolutions which the intestines make are usually few in number. Instead of a heart, we find a dorsal vessel - a long tube placed on the central line of the back, and divided into segments, corresponding with those of the body, - each segment being, as it were, the heart for its own division. The respiratory apparatus, too, is arranged with the most perfect symmetry."
We have before suggested the connection of this bilateral symmetry with power of movement. Here, as necessarily among what are pre-eminently Natures warriors, we find the greatest activity.
"The development of the organs of nutrition in articulated animals would seem to be altogether subservient to that of the locomotive apparatus ; - their function being chiefly to supply the nerves and muscles with the ailment necessary to sustain their vigour. The power of these muscles is so great, in proportion to their size, that, in energy and rapidity of movement, some of the articulated tribes surpass all other animals."
When we remember the ants, the white ants, the bees, etc., we realize that social instincts also are developed in a striking manner among these, and in the ants find specialized warrior-forces acting like a trained host. A large proportion of the whole group, as the crabs, beetles, wire-worm, centipede, have their coats of mail also for defence. Thus the spiritual idea which reigns among the Articulata is not hard to trace. That it is in complete harmony with their numerical place needs also no insisting on. The general thought is all that we can here trace: for details, we have no room; but there is here a fruitful field for any who will labour in it.
We come now, lastly, to what is first in position among these types, - that of the -
The Vertebrata are, as every one knows, so called from their possession of a jointed column inclosing the spine, the skull being only an expansion of the same in order to protect the brain in like manner. Brain and spine, rather than the bony case which environs them, are really the distinctive characters of these highest of the Animal Kingdom.
COMPARATIVE DIAGRAM OF VERTEBRATA (B) AND INVERTEBRATA (A)
(a) Body-wall (b) Alimentary Canal. (c) Circulatory System
(n) Sympathetic Nervous System; (?) Cerebro-Spinal Nervous System
"In all Invertebrate animals, without exception," says Prof. Nicholson, "the body may be regarded as a single tube, inclosing all the viscera; and consequently, in this case, the nervous system is contained within the general cavity of the body, and is not in any way shut off from the alimentary canal. The transverse section, however, of the Vertebrate animal exhibits two tubes, one of which contains the great masses of the nervous system, - that is, the cerebro-spinal axis, or brain and spinal cord - whilst the other contains the alimentary canal and the chief circulatory organs, together with certain portions of the nervous system known as time ganglionic or sympathetic system. Leaving the cerebro-spinal centre out of sight for a moment, we see that the larger or visceral tube of the Vertebrate animal contains the digestive canal, the hmal system, and the gangliated nervous system. Now this is exactly what is contained in the visceral cavity of any of the higher invertebrate animals; and it follows from this, as pointed out by Von Baer, that it is the sympathetic nervous system of Vertebrates which is truly comparable to, and homologous with, the nervous system of Invertebrates. The cerebro-spinal nervous centres of the Vertebrata are to be regarded as something superadded, and not represented at all among the Invertebrata."
It is clear that this additional part is that which governs the whole, moreover. Without being able to attribute to the brain the mental power ascribed to it by Dr. Carpenter, we may assuredly see in it a means of concentrating and combining the powers existing in those storehouses of nerve-force which we find in the ganglionic centres which make up the whole nerve-system of Invertebrates. And thus a unity of control is established over every part which we do not find in the latter, - a unity which is to be discerned in the fact that in the Vertebrates such divisions of the one animal into two, or even replacement of lost members, as we find in other sub-kingdoms, is no longer possible. The animal is here one, and indivisible, and that not by simplicity of organization, as in the Mollusk, but by subjection to one controlling power. Unity, from the full harmony of many organs and functions, - not the narrow unity of one prevalent idea, but that which we have seen to. be characteristic of groups pre-eminently typical - distinguishes the Vertebrate.
The spiritual idea is easily read here as harmonious obedience, in which is expressed that integrity or oneness which is indeed the first principle of the life of faith, and which produces, where it is found the highest development of every faculty of the soul. Thus in the Vertebrate now every function is elaborated as in no other type, - digestion and nutrition beyond the Mollusk, locomotion more perfect though not more various than the Articulate, the internal support without the immobility of the Radiate. In the circulatory system a true heart for the first time appears, and becomes a new centre of force in the body. Sensation is correspondingly awake, as the blood reddens, and the nerve-power manifests itself in a new energy and directness of application. How many pages could one write upon the spiritual meaning of all this! Yet I shall not; for my object is not to sermonize but to bring my reader face to face with the God of nature for himself, when the application will be easy. These types are wonderfully full, detailed, and life like pictures, needing little help to understand them, when once we are in a responsive attitude of soul. What wonder, when in them God has written, not for the philosophers, but the whole race of man, just as He has written His other book of revelation. Near enough to Natures heart, we shall find that it is God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Heart of Nature.
Go To Eleventh (last) Chapter
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